International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive David Richardson on Sunday said that the people and security forces of Pakistan deserve appreciation for their efforts that have changed the international perception that Pakistan was not a safe country for cricket.
Addressing a press conference at the National Stadium Karachi, where he watched the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), the ICC chief said the fact that so many foreign players had agreed to come to Pakistan to play in the PSL was indicative of the improved security situation in the country.
"You should appreciate the work done by Pakistan as a country and the Pakistan security forces because the fact is the perception outside of Pakistan was that it was quite a dangerous place to visit in the past and that perception slowly but surely has been changed through the good work that has been done here, not through any window dressing," he said.
He said the ICC has been trying to support Pakistan is bringing international cricket back to the country and hosting PSL matches in Pakistan was "a great step in achieving that". He also thanked the foreign players who made the trip to Pakistan for PSL 2019.
Richardson said the trust built up among foreign teams — from security advisors to the players — regarding playing cricket in Pakistan has increased "tremendously".
"The level of comfort is growing all the time amongst the foreign players and foreign teams," he said, responding to a question.
"Step-by-step, certainly Pakistan is on the right path," he added, assuring ICC's support to the Pakistan Cricket Board in its efforts to encourage foreign teams to visit Pakistan.
In response to a question regarding the permission given by ICC to the Indian cricket team to wear military caps during a recent match against Australia, Richardson said the global cricket governing body has a "robust regulatory framework by which we grant consent to these types of things".
"In this case, it was a one-off consent; it was granted subject to the messaging around the wearing of the caps simply being sympathy with the people who had lost their lives in the [Pulwama] attack and in particular, to help them raise funds for the families of the people who had lost their lives," he explained.
He added that the permission was granted subject to the Indian team "making no political statement around what was happening".
Discussing cricketing ties between Pakistan and India, he said it was up to their respective cricket boards to arrange bilateral series.
But when asked what role the ICC would play if India decided to not play against Pakistan at the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales, the ICC chief said all teams were bound to play against all teams as per the rules.
"For ICC events, all teams have signed a members' participation agreement which requires them to participate in all the matches of the tournament and [in case of] any unjustified non-compliance with that provision in the agreement, the playing conditions will kick in and the points will be awarded accordingly [to the other team]," he concluded.